I always want to do everything. This extends too far into my life, but especially in the literary realm, I want to do everything. I want to be in every book club. I want to complete every book challenge. I want to post on every book I read, and I want to read every book. Earlier this year I made the pronouncement that I would be reading along with the Reading to Know online book club hosted by my friend Carrie. I then proceeded to read none of them. Ok, I read a few, but I think I only completed one in time. I'm not going to make excuses, but just say that I am aware that I take on too much stuff when it comes to books. So, I will try and write up something when I do get to the books and when I don't....oh well.
The book chosen for this month was P.G. Wodehouse. Anything by P.G. Wodehouse. I chose The Code of the Woosters which features Jeeves and Wooster, two characters you might recognize even if you've never read the books. According to the online book site Goodreads this is the 7th book in the Jeeves Series. It's not really that important because I'm fairly confident the books are ok to read out of order. And this is coming from me, the lady obsessed with finishing a series from beginning to end. (Unfortunately I looked at the exact order of the Jeeves series and I fear I am going to have to actually read it from beginning to end)
Because I just finished the book and tend to think Wodehouse's plots (though woven incredibly tightly and effectively) actually take a backseat to his hilarity, I'm going to give the quickest possible sketch of the plot. Bertram "Bertie" Wooster, a young gentleman (read: unemployed but wealthy and with a lot of time on his hands) is sucked into a romantic and family drama when his Aunt Dahlia tells him that her husband is willing to trade his most prized chef (Anatole) for a silver cow-creamer owned by Sir Watkyn Bassett (a judge who is aware of Bertie's hijinks with his friends, and whose daughter Madelaine believes mistakenly that Bertie is in love with her, yet she loves his friend Gussie Fink-Nottle). Bertie decides to visit the home of Sir Watkyn first to ascertain how to get Sir Watkyn to give up the cow creamer and because he'd heard from Gussie that he and Madelaine had had a rift.
What follows is a mess of two romances, and one bachelor trying to avoid romance, a stolen policeman's helmet, and a local dictator. In the end the only one who can sort out the nightmare is Bertie's valet, Jeeves.
This is basically the gist of almost all Wodehouse books you pick up...at least in the Jeeves series. Bertie is the bumbling young man who gets into what seem like impossible situations and Jeeves always has a plan to extricate him. You think you would get tired of reading the same thing, but I doubt you ever will. Wodehouse has a way of writing that just makes you laugh. I don't know another word for it except breezy british humor. Everything is absurd and extreme, but not so absurd and extreme that you can't believe it.
Not only do I respect Wodehouse for his ability to make me laugh so hard I cry, (This is no mean feat, when was the last time you laughed at a book so hard you cried) and paint such an extreme yet believable picture. I respect his ability to think of the most Gordian-esque knots to get Bertram in. I mean, in this one you have 1. An aunt who wants Bertie to steal the cow-creamer for her husband; 2. A Judge who doesn't want his ward, Stephanie, or his daughter marrying Bertie, Gussie, OR the neighborhood curate and Bertie who ends up at some point committed to both; 3. Gussie simultaneously boosting his confidence by writing insults about his future father-in-law and his future father-in-law's friend in a book, and losing it when the book is stolen by Stephanie; 4. A policeman who is intent on bringing Stephanie to justice for her dog; 5. Stephanie intent on retaliation by making her curate fiancee steal the policeman's helmet; 6. Sir Watkyn's friend, Roderick Spode, who believes he is a man of destiny, but is in love with Madelaine Bassett and who hates Gussie; 6. Gussie who loses Madelaine's heart numerous times by causing her to believe he is in love with Stephanie; 7. Stephanie who wants Bertie to steal the cow-creamer, so the Curate can return it, so Sir Watkyn will let them marry; ...and I know I'm leaving out so much more! Somehow this all doesn't get confused, and the reader can get through the book effortlessly in a day or two.
It's actually somewhat rare that I read humorous books. There is no actual reason for this, I just don't read them that often. Perhaps it's because I'm too busy reading depressing books, like 1984. But every time I read a Wodehouse book I wonder why I don't read more Wodehouse books. So, I'm glad Diary of an Autodidact chose this author.
Incidentally, I started reading this book on Thursday. This is Friday, so yes, I finished it in a day. But I ran to the library in a panic because I really wanted to participate this month, and I grabbed the first Wodehouse I could get my graspy little hands on. This particular one I have read before. Not only have I read it before. I had it read out loud to me when I was younger, and I've seen the Jeeves and Wooster television show episode of this particular book. So, I was fairly familiar with the plot and when I began to read it I thought, "Oh no! I picked THIS one?" But it was still funny and I was contented. I think I will try to read another though, just to round out my Wodehouse knowledge.